An independent inquiry into policing has been demanded after a landmark victory in the Rotherham 12 case. The jury in the case unanimously found all ten defendants standing trial not guilty of violent disorder.
Applause rang out in the public gallery at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday, Wednesday, as the verdicts were announced.
Two of the 12 pled guilty before the trial began but will apply to change their plea in light of the verdicts.
The 12 had attended a peaceful Unite Against Fascism demonstration against a Nazi march in Rotherham on 5 September last year. It came two weeks after 81 year old Mushin Ahmed’s racist murder in the South Yorkshire town.
The Rotherham 12 campaign described the verdicts as a “game changer”. It said they will have “immediate and long term consequences for race relations in the region and nationally”.
South Yorkshire Police (SYP) is already under scrutiny following its cover-up of the Hillsborough disaster and its conduct during the Battle of Orgreave. There police attacked striking miners and went on to frame several for riot.
Recent reports have also exposed police failings and possible corruption relating to the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham.
Suresh Grover of the Monitoring Group is a spokesperson for the campaign. He said, “Apart from the actions of the far right groups, our anger is reserved for the South Yorkshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service.
“The prosecution evidence clearly acknowledged that far right groups were intent on causing community divisions, fear, intimidation and terror through perpetual acts of violence and murder.
“Instead of protecting the Asian Muslim community, the police turned against us.” He called for a “rigorous independent inquiry” into the conduct and behaviour of SYP officers.
One of defendants, NHS worker Abrar Javid, said he believed that the men were victims of “political policing”. He said the police had failed over the child sexual exploitation scandal and “were trying to make examples of Asian people”.
Another defendant, gas engineer Mohammed Saleem, said there were similarities with Orgreave. Miners who were at Orgreave described how cops shepherded them into an area before launching an attack.
On 5 September last year, police forced anti-fascist demonstrators past the pub where they were attacked by drunken racists.
The Rotherham 12 campaign was based on the slogan, “Self defence Is No Offence”. It has been backed by the Orgreave and Hillsborough justice campaigns, trade unions and campaigning groups.
Suresh Grover stressed the importance of the support given to the Rotherham 12. “We want to thank our excellent legal team led by Michael Mansfield QC and our supporters – black and white, men and women, young and old, local and national,” he said.
“Without them our life and pain would have been unbearable.”